The Career Gastón Acurio Pursued Before Cooking

Ceviche, a classic Peruvian dish, can be found in restaurants all over the world largely due to the influence of Chef Gastón Acurio. Acurio helped place his home country's cuisine on international menus, and his restaurant Astrid y Gastón has landed on multiple 50 Best lists (via Fine Dining Lovers). But when he first presented the idea for an entirely Peruvian bistro, Acurio struggled to find support.

"Nobody wanted to rent us a place to open Peruvian restaurants because they were afraid that we were going to go bankrupt," he told Pan American World. Acurio proved them wrong, however, and his culinary endeavors have energized local economies and encouraged community agriculture. Named the 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year by one of South America's influential business magazines, Acurio's trajectory to inspire leader of the Peruvian food revolution was nearly diverted by an entirely different career path (per Cordon Bleu).

An intuitive career change

Acurio dropped out of Madrid's Universidad Complutense where he was studying law and instead enrolled in a program at the Escuela de Hostelería (via La Mar). Eventually his passion for the culinary arts brought him to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris (per Cordon Bleu). Following international success — his restaurant has locations in over a dozen countries — Acurio opened a culinary school of his own.

"I had all the opportunities that I could dream of: I dreamed of becoming a chef, and I trained in Paris when it was a mecca for chefs. I started by opening a small restaurant and was able to further my dreams. Years passed, and I arrived at a point where I had a company with investors and restaurants all over the world, and I wanted to give back," he told OpenTable. "Many dream to be a chef but don't have the opportunity. I chose to open a school because education is the most powerful tool to fix the inequalities of life." Acurio's career change worked out well.